After Wednesday’s Webinar I got the following message from one of the attendees and since it relates to programming and a situation that probably a lot of you might encounter, I thought it best to cover it as a blog post. So thank you, Christian Thompson of SolaFide Barbell for your inquiry. I hope this is helpful.
“I have a 19 yr, old lifter, technique is sound, speed is great, strength is his weakness. He has qualified for Junior Nationals, and university however, lifts in lower sessions and doesn't have great numbers for his weight class. I have considered taking down the volume of his classic lifts and focus strictly on strength. Specifically squats, pull, and overhead strength and the accessory work the strengthens his ability to stabilize weight. I would have him work in the classic lifts 3 to 4 days a week at 60-75% to maintain speed. I would do this over a whole macrocycle. I was wondering what your recommendation would be, do you think this would be an appropriate idea? How long would you keep this your focus if so?”
The first thing to consider here is his bodyweight to height ratio. If he is competing at a bodyweight that is too light for his height, he is trying to move levers that are too long without sufficient muscle mass to do so. The following table lists advisable height ranges for each weight class. It should provide some insights as to whether or not bodyweight gain is a recommendation.
149 ± 3 cm
156.33 ± 2.5 cm
161.75 ± 2 cm
165 ± 2 cm
169 ± 2 cm
172.5 ± 2 cm
176 ± 2 cm
186 ± 6 cm
That being said I would recommend going on a program to induce more hypertrophy and consequently strength development. I would keep the work on the classical lifts to a minimum, perhaps at least 2 days per week, and doing sufficient sets of doubles in the 80% range.
The rest of the program needs to put the greatest emphasis on squatting movements, primarily the back squat. Multiple sets at 5 repetitions per set with heavy weight performed perhaps twice a week are going to do a great deal to stimulate endocrine secretion and remake the body into a more anabolic state. Front Squats performed at 4 reps per set with heavy weight should be performed at least once per week.
The majority of the rest of the training should be composed of multiple sets of 4 reps per set of deadlifts, pulls, and extensions. Overhead strength should not be neglected and jerks, power jerks, push presses and various pressing movements must be included in the regimen.
This type of training should occupy three or four days per week with an emphasis on eating sufficient amounts and resting. 6 to 8 weeks of training should bring about significant changes in body mass and body composition. If there has not been adequate progress after an 8 week cycle, the athlete should engage in a recovery week, and then perform the cycle again.
Some athletes are not ready to begin weightlifting training. Some are lacking sufficient athletic qualities, while others may be in need of conditioning to endure a serious training regimen. Others may simply lack the muscular mass to engage in meaningful training. This athlete falls into the last category. During this period there should be no meaningful competitions planned. An athlete may lift in a meet to develop competitive skills, but there should be no modification of the training to accommodate the competition. After completing a cycle or two, the lifter can then enter into a more conventional periodized training program concluding in a meaningful competition.